Four-time Tour de France champion, Chris Froome (Ineos Grenadiers) believes that the 2020 race is Primož Roglič’s to lose. The Jumbo-Visma rider took hold of the yellow jersey after stage 9 and, with one week remaining, he has a 44-second lead over his compatriot Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
“It's definitely Roglič's Tour to lose, I agree with that,” Froome told Eurosport. “I'd love to see Egan [Bernal] win but at the same time, I think Pogačar is not far off either. He seems to be the freshest out of all of them. He seems to be at ease all the time. It's amazing to watch him race.”
There are still several stern mountain tests to come with four uphill finishes and a mountain time trial remaining. Froome thinks that Roglič’s biggest hurdle will be to maintain his performance across the final week.
“It remains to be seen if they can keep it up for three weeks, that’s the challenge for Roglič,” said Froome. “Typically, in the past we have seen him tail off in the Grand Tours and the tail of this Tour de France is brutal.
“They’ve got the Grand Colombier stage and then after the rest day they have what I would call the Queen stage, on stage 17 [a summit finish to Col de la Loze -ed]. Obviously, the time trial up Planche des Belles Filles on stage 20, there are some heavy GC days right at the end of the race and it’s going to be interesting if Roglič can hold onto it.”
With a drastically amended racing calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic halting sport worldwide in March, the Tour de France is positioned much earlier in the programme than would happen in an ordinary year. Most riders have only been able to get a select few racing days in their legs and Froome believes the variation in lockdown restrictions around the world has had an impact on form.
“We didn’t have that much racing coming into the Tour. A lot of the peloton was stuck in lockdown on turbo trainers for a few months prior to the Tour, some people were out training on the roads,” Froome explained. “It’s interesting to see from the Group of GC riders who was actually allowed out training and who was stuck inside. Obviously, the Slovenians were allowed out and they seem to be flying. Roglič and Pogačar seem to have a hold on the race at the moment.”
Froome was left out of this year’s Tour de France and is currently racing at Tirreno-Adriatico, with teammate and 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas, ahead of a bid for a second overall title at the Vuelta a España in October. Meanwhile, 2019 champion Egan Bernal is the sole general classification leader for Ineos Grenadiers at the French race. The Colombian is resting in third place overall and 59 seconds down on Roglič.
“Egan seems to be having ups and downs, it’s quite difficult to tell exactly how he’s feeling at the moment,” said Froome. “I’d like to think, like last year, he can come right in the last week and make a difference there, especially when it gets harder. From a minute down it looks like it’s going to be difficult for him to make a difference against Roglič.”
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